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Collection Dayton C. Miller Collection

Gold Flute

Gold Flute

At the turn of the twentieth century, Dayton C. Miller entertained the idea of purchasing a gold-alloy flute from the highly respected firm of Rudall Carte & Co., London. Facing the reality that he could not afford to buy one in the foreseeable future, he decided to attempt making such a flute himself. He did so over a three-and-a-half-year period (1902-5), and he included several fingering and tuning features not incorporated together on any other instrument. During the process, Dr. Miller kept an elaborate log of each procedure and the time required to complete it.

The standard modern professional-model gold flute is usually made of 14-karat gold alloyed with other metals to ensure strength and stability. The Miller instrument is a seamless, one-piece tube of 22-karat gold (24 karats is pure gold), and the mechanism is made of 18-karat gold. However, Dr. Miller intended this instrument for his own use at home, and it is still in beautiful and playable condition a century after he finished assembling it.

Miller's ledger entries for each of his instruments state their cost to him, including packing and shipping when applicable. The sums in parentheses indicate his estimated monetary evaluation at the time. His entry for the gold flute estimated it to be worth $2,500.